Dec 08, 2020
VYPE U Behind the Lens: George Ranch Swim Dominates Fort Bend Austin
Every team needs its captain.
Taking on that role requires not only the confidence in oneself to lead by example, but often the social prowess to instill that same confidence in one’s teammates. To encourage them at a moment’s notice.
Fortunately for the Travis Tigers volleyball program, their team captain junior setter Ava Williams has prowess to spare.
“Being the captain, I’ve become a very vocal person and I like to keep everyone involved,” she said. “I take my time to make sure I go out of my way to get to know every teammate that I have, so that we can all bond and play well together as a team. The best teams have the best connections.
2023-24 Travis Tigers VolleyballBradley C. Collier (VYPE)
“Other than playing volleyball, we will do our best to bond with each other outside of the game. For example, we went out into the woods together without our phones to see how we would manage. We’ll do team dinners and other things together to keep that dynamic strong.”
Volleyball is a full-time gig for Williams.
In addition to playing for Travis and the teams that preceded her time at the school, she competed at Houston Skyline with her sister until she was 15 years old, before moving over to her current club team Katy United.
“I started playing when I was really young and have just kept going with it,” said Williams. “Since then it’s always been a part of my life, with both my club and school teams. I just can’t get away from it. I also ran track in middle school, but when high school started I knew that volleyball was something I had to fully commit myself to.”
So what does the future hold for this junior Tiger?
Bradley C. Collier (VYPE)
“I definitely want to play in college,” Williams said. “I’ve been leaning towards the Florida area, so I’ve been in contact with schools over there. I haven’t decided what I’ve wanted to major in yet, but I think I want to go into the Sports Entertainment industry at some point. As an athlete, you want to be around other athletes, and that seems like it would be an interactive and fun job for me.”
Williams is clearly a people person. That’s something she likely picked up in her time at Travis, which she holds in high regard.
“I think Travis is one of the best schools in Fort Bend,” she said. “The academics, athletics, and amount of diversity we have has allowed me to excel as a person because I've been exposed to different types of people and ideas. Travis has the environment that can prepare any student for the real world and that will be incredibly beneficial for me, further down the road.”
Keep an eye out for Williams as she and her team undergo their remaining district schedule. Given how vocal she is, it won’t be hard to miss her.
The most recent Katy ISD school is making big waves as the Jordan Warriors are on the cusp of making its first postseason appearance.
Sure, it’s early, but coach Mike Rabe’s crew is in year two of varsity play and looks the part.
The Warriors are 4-0; 2-0 in district play and will have a huge challenge this week against the legendary Katy Tigers.
“I loved the opportunity of opening up a new school,” Rabe said of taking the Warrior job. “I was hired to take over rebuild jobs in the past, and this was something new.
“I don’t know if I would do it again, though,” he laughed. “Did I mention it was during a pandemic?”
Rabe is no-nonsense leader with a simple culture.
“It’s really six things,” he said. “Commitment and consistency, first. Holding each other accountable is key, while attitude and effort are pillars to success. Finally, you just have to go out and execute.”
Pretty simple, right? Especially when you have great kids and a ton of talent.
“These guys were thrust on varsity at an early age,” he said. “They are really passionate about the game and have just matured physically and mentally over the past three years. It’s been really rewarding to watch.”
Leading the "Air Jordan" offense is QB Colin Willetts, who has thrown for over 1,100 yards and 12 scores. He has some serious weapons. Junior RB Chad Gaspar is a national recruit with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Baylor, Oregon and Wisconsin positioning for his eventual commitment.
The receiving corps is special. Zechariah Sample is committed to Arizona State and has over 300 yards and five receiving scores. He also plays cornerback.
National recruit Andrew Marsh is just a junior but is arguably the best 2025 WR in Texas. He has nearly 500 yards receiving. VanKieth Brown transferred from Paetow and has double-digit offers, and Deacon Stanfield has committed to Houston Christian University.
“Colin has received varsity coaching for four years,” he said. “He understands the offense and executes very well. Our skill position athletes can go out and make plays. They are really fun to watch, while our offensive line has developed really well with another offseason.
“We are really explosive on offense, but we just take what the opponents are giving us. Our coaches make great adjustments during the game, which makes us tough to defend,” he said.
On defense, Jordan welcomed Katy transfers Jimmy-Phrisco Alo-Suliafu, Dallas-Patrick Alo-Suliafu, Jeremy Alo-Perry and Rocky Alo-Perry to Warrior-nation over the offseason… the Polynesian Pipeline.
Zion Jones is the QB of the defense at safety, while Brayden Coffie controls the linebacking box for the Warriors, according to Rabe.
As Jordan is on the eve of the “Katy Game”, Rabe steadies his message.
“We don’t treat any game differently on any given week,” he said. “We focus on our football team as we try and get better every day. The rest will take care of itself.”
Come on coach, it’s the “Katy Game”.
Since moving over from Spring High School, head coach Trent Miller has flipped the script at Willis, turning the Wildkats into a juggernaut team in year two.
With DJ Lagway running Miller’s electric offensive scheme and a defense that has stepped up from last year, the Wildkats are sitting at 5-0, tied for first in district and their best start since 2016.
“This is the first time this team has been 5-0 in a 6A district,” said Miller. “Knocking off back-to-back playoff teams in Week 1 and 2 of district play and sitting at 3-0 in the district is something this town hasn’t seen in a while, so it’s been exciting.”
So what’s been the secret sauce to Willis’ hot start in year two?
“The biggest piece that was missing from last year to this year was having a full offseason period,” he said. “Building a program and a culture that does things the way we do things takes time.”
The offense has been the strength of this Wildkats team this year bringing back a star-studded unit.
“I think the big key is DJ being healthy," Miller said. "Last year he was banged up throughout the season and having him 100-percent has been huge. Bigger than that though, I think was being able to break down concepts on plays for the skill players and offensive lineman this offseason.
“Teaching them why we run these plays and what we are trying to do has made huge strides in our growth this year.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildkats have stepped up year over year and have come out with a chip on their shoulder.
“Defensively, the biggest jump we’ve made is the attitude, giving 100-percent every play," he said. "Our boys are hungry and have that -- sharks in the water mentality.”
Quarterback DJ Lagway (Florida-commit) is having an MVP-caliber season but Miller has been really impressed with some other athletes who have really upped their game.
“Starting defensively, Josiah Stephens is playing like an absolute monster," he said. "Having him make plays up front and getting some big time sacks, it’s been huge for our defense. Also, Brock Perry our middle linebacker has shed some weight and has been effective sideline to sideline hitting with some attitude.”
Miller also mentioned Imauree Holmes (ATH), Jermaine Bishop Jr. (ATH) and Carter Jenkins (DB), who are all playing at a high level right now in the secondary.
“Debraun Hampton is a guy who’s having a breakout year at wide receiver," he said. "The development to his game that he made in the offseason is showing. Jermaine Bishop Jr. as a two-way player has been that spark on offense when we need a big play."
Terri Lawerence (RB), Jalen Mickens (WR) and Daylion Robinson (ATH) have all been having big year’s so far for the Wildkats and have Miller feeling good about the offense.
The undefeated Wildkats and Miller have the Willis community believing and the Friday Night Light vibes are spreading throughout the town and school.
“The beauty of being in a one-horse town is that everybody feeds off each other, good or bad,” Miller said. “With the success all the programs are having right now at Willis, it trickles down to everyone. Everybody is drinking the same kool-aid right now.”
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